Saudi Arabia has executed an American citizen who was convicted of killing his father. Bishoy Sharif Naji Naseef was executed on Wednesday in Riyadh, according to a statement from the Saudi Interior Ministry, which said he had beaten and then fatally strangled his Egyptian father.
The statement also claimed Naseef used narcotics, mutilated his father’s body after the slaying and attempted to kill another person before his arrest.
The ministry did not identify how Naseef was executed, but Saudi Arabia has in the past often used beheading when implementing the death penalty.
A lawyer for Naseef could not be immediately identified. It wasn’t known if he had a home address in the United States, and other biographical details including his age remained unclear.
The US State Department was unable to offer further information or confirm Naseef’s death.
‘We are aware of those reports and are monitoring the situation but don’t have any specifics,’ State Department spokesman Vedant Patel told reporters.
He said a US consular official last visited Naseef in July.
It’s unclear whether Saudi Arabia has ever executed a US citizen, but the country was responsible for the extra-judicial killing of Saudi-American journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey in 2018.
Saudi Arabia ranked third among the nations with the worst record for executions, behind China and Iran in 2022, according to statistics from Amnesty International.
The Gulf kingdom is frequently criticized for its prolific use of capital punishment, which human rights groups say undermines its bid to soften its image through a sweeping ‘Vision 2030’ social and economic reform agenda.
Its annual rate of executions has nearly doubled since Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and his father gained power, according to a report from British human rights group Reprieve.
More than 1,000 death sentences have been carried out since 2015, the report said.
A total of 91 people — 19 of them foreigners — have been executed so far this year, according to an AFP tally based on state media reports.
In March 2022, the kingdom executed 81 people on the same day, the largest known mass execution carried out in the kingdom in its modern history.
Saudi officials said at the time that the criminals executed included members of Al Qaeda and had ‘followed the footsteps of Satan’.
A total of 73 Saudis, seven Yemenis and one Syrian died in the mass execution.
The latest execution of a US citizen comes even as Saudi Arabia presses for stronger security guarantees from Washington DC.
Several weeks ago, bin Salman met in Jeddah with President Joe Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan, in a bid to accelerate talks on a deal to normalize relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel.
One of the biggest Saudi demands is a new formal security commitment from the US, including ironclad guarantees of a US response to any Iranian aggression.
In recent years, Iran has stepped up its seizure of oil tankers in and around the Strait of Hormuz, the U-shaped gateway to the Gulf of Oman and Arabian Sea that carries a fifth of world oil output.
The US military says Iran has either seized or attempted to take nearly 20 internationally flagged ships in the region in the past two years.
Saudi Arabia and Washington’s other Gulf allies — reliant on the shipping lane to deliver their oil to global markets — have long demanded stronger US security commitments.